What to Expect From Your Body in Your First Trimester of Pregnancy
Pregnancy is such a wonderful thing! Of course, you probably feel like you were hit by a truck, and that’s reasonable with all that is going on inside your body right now, but it’s all normal. My husband thinks I’m funny because I notice each and every change right away. I delight in my back aches, my nausea and my left-hand tingling knowing that’s it’s a sign that I’m pregnant! I think I would be more worried if I felt fine and didn’t have any symptoms.
Over 78% of couples in the United States desire to have children (or even more children) but are struggling. My husband and I tried for two years until we found success. On top of that, almost half of all pregnancies end in a miscarriage, although many of those happen before a woman even realizes that she was ever pregnant.
At that time, being pregnant was a blessing and I enjoyed every ache, every pain, and every symptom as another successful day. I can still remember almost every detail , almost 4 years later now, with another little one in tow. Most every day I marveled at the thought that I was growing a child inside of me, and was going to have a baby.
I remember my labor fondly and now hold two precious children in my arms. We are currently planning our next bundle of joy, hoping to be pregnant again after the holidays. This is such a beautiful time in your life. Enjoy it, journal about it, savor every moment because you will miss it when it's over (yes, I promise), and consider the miracle happening inside you.
Let’s look at what you might be experiencing during your first trimester!
How far along are you?
Larger, Much More Sensitive Chest
Normally this will happen at the end of your cycle, right before your period starts, as your body is filling with progesterone and estrogen. You may remember this.
But without your period coming to drop those hormones back down and give your body a break, your chest will keep swelling and stretching, and therefore will continue to be sore.
At this point, your body is acting on other instincts. It’s preparing for a baby. So swelling and soreness aren’t the only things you might see in this area. Expect color changes, veins, and a host of other strange characteristics for the first few months.
Your body is pumping tons of extra blood to this area and preparing your chest for another purpose. For the next nine months, these will not just be decoration anymore.
Thankfully, this will start subsiding in the second trimester as your body will settle into the changes happening to you and the soreness will likely go away.
Swelling Stomach and Cramps
Although this seems like an early time to see and stomach growth from your pregnancy, every woman is different. Especially if you were slender before conception, you may begin seeing growth a little earlier.
However, this is more likely bloating from other fun things happening around this time. Like a full bladder, which we’ll discuss in a little bit, and possible constipation.
There are so many new things happening in your body right now to cause these things.
The swelling, cramping, and other stomach symptoms are due to initial implantation of your fertilized egg, increased blood flow to your pelvic area (understandably), the build-up of your uterine lining, and your uterus growing as your little one is growing.
Your body is taking care of another human being now. You are growing a placenta for your new baby, developing an umbilical cord, and creating a human being.
You will be feeling a great deal of new feelings in this area for nine months. Don’t be too worried unless the pain becomes unbearable (which may be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy or other problem), or you see severe bleeding, or bleeding for several days.
Light spotting once or twice, or even after intimacy, is fine, and period-type cramping is normal as well. If either of these gets out of hand though, immediately see your doctor or go to the ER.
Increased Need to Pee
Having to run to the bathroom a great deal, day and night, is also another common pregnancy characteristic.
My husband totally didn’t understand. He thought this wasn’t supposed to happen until my stomach was large and I had a baby pressing on my bladder.
The truth is, the worst of this pressure is during the first trimester AND the last, as these are the times when your body is working the hardest.
Right now, your body is starting to produce a great deal more bodily fluids to prepare for the little one you are growing, and your kidneys have pumped up their efficiency a great deal to remove the waste from your body that much faster.
Your body is working hard to create an ideal environment for creating a human being, and it needs to be conducive to keeping a growing fetus clean and healthy.
Another big reason that you have to pee more is that your uterus is growing.
Although it may not seem like anything is happening inside you quite yet, there’s more happening than you could imagine. Your uterus is going through more changes now than at any other time during your pregnancy, short of your delivery time.
Thankfully, in your second trimester, your baby (and your uterus) will lift up into your abdominal cavity and relieve some of the pressure on your bladder for a little while.
Whatever you do, keep drinking all of that water. As important as water is to a nonpregnant individual, it is even more important for a woman that is pregnant!
Of course you’re tired! Think about everything we’ve already discussed that’s happening inside your body right now.
“Your pregnant body is working harder even when you’re resting than a nonpregnant body is when mountain-climbing; you’re just not aware of the exertion” (What to Expect When You’re Expecting, 2002).
It takes a lot of work, even if you can’t see it, to manufacture the life support system that your baby will depend upon for the next nine months, including building your uterine lining and developing your baby’s placenta, not to mention growing a human being.
Whether you like it or not, you will start to feel the need to sleep more, maybe take naps in the afternoon, and you won’t be able to go for as long, or at the same pace, that you did prior to conception.
I’m used to walking my dogs for a few miles at a good speed every day to every other day. Now I get winded, getting really fatigued, and start cramping really bad after half of that at a slow pace.
It may be easier to consider not that you aren’t exercising quite as much, but instead that your body is exercising all the time with as hard as it’s working 24/7 now.
Consider laying back on a pillow on the couch and putting your feet in the air for ten minute breaks every so often. It works wonders!!
Nausea (Otherwise Known as Morning Sickness)
Did you know that little more than one-half of pregnant women get morning sickness? Hopefully, you will be one of those lucky ones not to get it. If you do get morning sickness, it could range from short bouts of nausea during the day without any actual sickness, all the way to tossing your cookies several times a day every day.
But why? Wouldn’t all of that puking hurt the baby and possibly cause a miscarriage? Not at all. In fact, it rarely interferes with proper nutrition, as long as you make an effort to make up for it by eating quality foods and gaining back that weight after the morning sickness is over.
So what causes it? Actually, all of the different processes and hormones going on in your body right now can be blamed. The high level of the pregnancy hormone in your body during the first trimester, your elevated estrogen levels, the stretching and relaxing of different muscles and systems in your body right now, and even the enhanced sense of smell some women develop are all, in some way, stimulating the part of your brain that controls nausea and vomiting.
This over-stimulation by all systems and processes in your body in the first trimester of pregnancy causes this response. Thank goodness I am one of those lucky women to only get a few seconds of nausea once a day every day. You can rest assured that the majority of women that do experience “morning sickness” will get over it at the beginning of the second trimester.
Lower Back Aches
Funny enough, starting at around three to five weeks pregnant, before you’d think you’d have problems like this, many pregnant women experience serious lower back pain, usually when relaxing or sitting and working.
At this point in your pregnancy, a hormone called relaxin being released in your body causes your ligaments to stretch and your joints to loosen.
This is all normal and is a result of your body trying to prepare you for the belly and the baby that are to come soon in your future.
Your body has a great deal of work to do not only to prepare for taking care of a growing infant but also to prepare you and your body for pregnancy.
Your body changes a great deal at this time whether you know it or not. Your ribs and chest will likely be expanding a bit, the bones in your pelvis are going to widen, and every other bone in your body, especially your back, have to prepare for the weight that you will be carrying.
Instead of doing this all at once when your baby absolutely needs the room, putting you in the hospital for the excruciating pain you would be feeling, it does it gradually a little at a time.
Unfortunately, that means that, even at so early a stage in your pregnancy, you are already feeling the “growing pains” associated with all of this preparation.
Heating pads, massage, and taking frequent breaks to sit back on a pillow and put your feet up will greatly help. Take heart knowing that this pain will likely subside in a few weeks.
Although you hear about the “glow” emitted by most women during pregnancy, this is usually just the initial excitement of finding out that they’re pregnant in the first trimester.
The real “glow” that can be seen physically in how beautiful many pregnant women seem, doesn’t normally come until a little later and results from the increased secretion of oils brought about by intense hormonal changes in your body.
In the first trimester, however, this increased hormone production normally just makes you break out in ways you don’t normally.
The day before I took my pregnancy test, I broke out all across my forehead. My forehead!! I don’t get acne on my forehead.
This was a great sign of something changing in my body before I had even officially taken the test.
Throughout your first trimester, if this is something you are suffering from, it will probably come and go.
I suggest taking showers rather than baths and using a mild soapless cleanser to wash (like Cetaphil) rather than your normal soap, to keep your skin from drying out.
It may also help to adopt a nice lotion and make sure that you moisturize from head to toe every day to keep this from being a problem on your forehead, on your back, or anywhere else this may become an issue.
Pregnancy is a big deal, and your body knows it. It’s going through a great deal right now to provide an environment that is safe and nourishing to your new baby, and to prepare your body to carry and take care of a new growing little one. Don’t be surprised if you see big changes even in the first handful of weeks of your new pregnancy, as this is completely normal.
If you’re experiencing headaches, cramps, backaches, nausea, and other annoying and painful symptoms right now, consider yourself blessed to have the gift of pregnancy. I know it doesn’t feel like much of a blessing right now, but it will all be worth it. (I know you're likely cursing me right now as you run to the bathroom to puke again.)
While many of the symptoms you are experiencing will go away at the beginning of the second trimester, there will be a whole new host of wonderful ailments to remind you that you are part of the most incredible part of nature, growing a human being inside of you. Try to find something positive in all of this, and know that your future is going to be even more exciting!
It's such an amazing experience to be a mother. There is simply nothing like it in the world. Think about all of the wonderful moments you'll get to witness, all that you'll teach your little one, and all the joys that come with motherhood, like when they say mommy and I love you for the first time. That's what is going to get you through the next phase. And remember the pot of gold at the end of this very tough rainbow. It will all be worth it and int he future will just feel like a short blip on the radar screen of your life.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Questions & Answers
Is it normal to experience candida in early pregnancy?
Your diet and personal hygiene determines much of candida's behaviors in your body. However, all bets are off during pregnancy. There is so much changing in your body at this time, that just about anything is normal.
© 2014 Victoria Van Ness